The emotional fuel driving our actions at work is the difference between hustle with heart vs unhealthy hustle.
Hustle and by association, hard work has received a bad rap in the last few years. Instagram Influencers and Tik Tok fans inundate us with hashtag worthy and trendy messages celebrating anti-hustle culture. The concept of “hard work” has become demonized as a result. Slogans such as “let it be easy” and “4-hour workweeks” have replaced “just do it” and “get it done”. This has resulted in more and more of us starting to wonder if “hard work” is a character flaw.
If you look up the word “hustle” in the dictionary, you will see words such as “energetic activity, aggressively pursuing, underhanded, moving hurriedly, forceful action or persuasion”. None of these descriptors feel particularly helpful. However, there is one definition I can get behind.
“To proceed or work rapidly and energetically”.
As a former c-level executive and now Executive Coach, I strongly disagree with the abandonment of hard work and healthy hustle. In fact, I feel so strongly about the topic that I devoted a mini masterclass on the topic The Hustle Paradox: How To Lead With Facts, Fairness, and Fortitude. In this workshop we talk about how to hustle, with heart. With purposefulness, intention, and sustainable focus. When I think back to “my hustling days” as a first time executive, I remember feeling deeply compelled and energized to perform at a high level. I was devoted to high performance leadership and creating rapid results. That commitment paid off in promotions, salary raises, high energy, and an engaged team. My hustle felt healthy.
Unfortunately, I also experienced the dark side of hustle energy which is anxiety, panic, fear, and relentless check-boxing. This is what I learned: there is nothing wrong with hustling with deep intention, with heart. Where we get into trouble is when our innate desire to perform is replaced with external forms of validation-seeking, such as approval and people pleasing. Hustle felt hard.
Validation is a bottomless pit and leads straight to the type of hustle that leads to burnout.
To assist you in determining whether you are hustling with heart (harmonious) or hustling with fear, (unhealthy) ask yourself to what degree do you agree with the following statements.
1. Do you feel needy or grasp to reach a goal?
2. Do you often feel there is not enough of something – money or time?
3. Are you driven by feelings of insecurity, fear, panic at the thought of not making your goals?
4. Does working to the ground make you feel good?
5. Do you feel married to your company to the detriment of your family?
6. Are you are scheduling yourself to the minute?
7. Are you often in back-to-back to back meetings?
8. Are you often looking for hacks, easy cut and paste DIY strategies, like time management tips?
Unhealthy Hustle is fuelled by impatience and acting FAST.
Unhealthy Hustle attaches your worth to your checkboxes.
Unhealthy Hustle feels better when you’re always busy.
Unhealthy Hustle often feels like you are behind, stressed, and pressured.
Unhealthy Hustle often has you doing things that don’t move the needle.
Unhealthy Hustle feels hard and heavy.
The only thing that unhealthy hustle ever produces is burnout. I know this intimately. It is physically and emotionally exhausting.
Unhealthy Hustle happens when stress runs the show.
The way I teach hustle with heart with my clients is energy that feels sustainable, focused, purposeful, and intentional. To assist you, ask yourself to what degree you agree with these statements:
1. I feel grounded, present, dedicated, and love what I am working on.
2. Although I work hard, I rest hard too. it is sustainable.
3. My hustle feels fun and fulfilling. It’s a “good tired”.
4. I feel accomplished and proud of my effort.
5. I hustle with intention and know when to pause.
6. I honour my needs for rest and rejuvenation.
7. I understand that goals are a guide and not a tool for abuse.
8. I take full responsibility for my results without blame and shame.
Hustle with heart rests and reflects
Hustle with heart is invigorating, energizing, and fun
Hustle with heart is sustainable
Hustle with heart is a dedication to my career
Hustle with heart is leading from within and in collaboration with others
Hustle with heart is always followed by rest and reflection.
Which hustle energy are you embodying?
If this conversation sparks you, feel free to join my email list where I share leadership wisdom and insight with vulnerability and always with purposeful intent.